The Surprising Difficulty of Choosing Children’s Furniture

 

Being in my mid-twenties, I now have a lot of friends with children of varying ages, and it always surprises me how involved every single aspect of parenting is. My friends are criticized for working, then they’re criticized for staying home. They’re told they don’t spend enough time with their friends anymore, but also shamed for taking advantage of people’s offers to babysit.

It’s no surprise that parenting is tough, but sometimes difficulties and stress come in surprising places. Like decorating. Choosing children’s furniture is a very involved process. First and foremost, you have to consider safety. Cribs and carseats have safety standards, but once you get into big-kid beds, or finding chairs that they can get into but won’t topple over, but also gives them room to grow, things get complicated.

Then there’s the quality. You want to find furniture that will hold up to abuse. Kids are not gentle creatures. So things need to be well-made and durable, but still soft and comfortable. You may have to acknowledge that certain items will need to be replaced on a semi-regular basis. This may include chairs, curtains, cushions, and bedding.

Of course you want to pick things that will last a long time, but parents also have to acknowledge that as your child grows, they will develop a sense of taste of their own, and the items you pick out while they’re young may not fit their changing personality. Balancing this with the struggle to not dictate your child’s interests can be difficult, particularly when you throw in “gender norms”. I know parents of girls who want don’t want to steer their daughters toward pink, but also don’t want to shame them if they like it. Parents of boys don’t want to push an interest in sports or military, but they don’t want to demonize typically male interests either. It’s a fine line to walk.

And of course, there’s the social issues that come with any purchase. My friends who make an effort to reduce their carbon footprint struggle to find eco-friendly kids furniture. Researching organic mattresses, and cribs and beds made from sustainable materials is a lot of work, but it usually also results in safer materials for your child to be around. It’s true what they say, what’s bad for the environment usually isn’t great for humans either.

Because many parents are on a budget, many companies market cheap furniture and room decor. Unfortunately, costs are often cut by outsourcing production to countries with lax labor laws. If you don’t want your kids to build their lives on products made by other children in third world countries, you have to do a lot of research, and sometimes put forth that extra dollar. But this results in supporting local producers and sustaining your local economy, so again, in the end, it’s worth it.

This is all to say that parents, I see your struggle and I know there are countless more considerations I failed to mention. You are appreciated for all the work you put into raising your children to become good human beings, and no matter what furniture decisions you make, your child will never appreciate all the emotional trauma you went through to furnish their rooms. So sometimes it’s okay to close your eyes and pick whichever fabric pattern you land on!

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Posted on March 30, 2017, in Writing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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